Whether you’re searching for an entry-level position right out of school or pivoting to a brand new industry, landing a new job without relevant industry experience is a challenge. Often, employers will hire candidates with relevant work experience over those without. However, there are ways to overcome this challenge. Here is how to get a job without industry experience in Malaysia.
How to get a job without industry experience in Malaysia
Emphasize your soft skills.
When advertising yourself to an employer, there are many non-industry-specific skills you can highlight on your application and resume – these are your soft skills. Soft skills can be gained and demonstrated through any type of work experience, regardless of the industry. Owens said these uncoachable skills, or leadership intangibles, are important, as they can help dictate a potential employee’s success.
“If you look at a professional like a ball of clay, more often than not, you should be able to mold that ball of clay into a fully functioning work of art,” said Owens. “The same can be said for a new graduate that has the right skills but not enough experience(s). Mold their core competencies into a fully functioning professional through mentorship, training and development.”
Take advantage of hands-on learning opportunities.
Another way to gain experience is by pursuing hands-on learning opportunities. These allow you to expand your knowledge past basic book learning and give you real-world experience in the industry you are trying to break into. Even taking on one small project can be beneficial in learning more about a given field and can give you interesting talking points to discuss during an interview.
“Some examples are work placements and practicums, applied research projects, fieldwork and simulations,” said Lancaster. “They allow you to give recruiters examples of where you demonstrated job-relevant qualities and skills.”
If you take on an industry-specific role like an apprenticeship or an internship, you also have the advantage of gaining internal connections within a company that you may want to later pursue. These experiences can sometimes turn into job offers, but don’t assume that will be the outcome.
Start at the bottom – work for free.
If you can’t find a paid internship or apprenticeship, consider gaining professional experience by working for free. If there isn’t currently an available position advertised at the company you want to work with, pursue it anyway by offering your services for free. This can be a great way to gain experience and make professional connections. Lancaster has seen firsthand success using this strategy.
“I helped a public health graduate start a significant research career after she offered to write health-related articles for my company as an unpaid intern,” said Lancaster. “By doing this, she was able to demonstrate her research and writing skills and had a referee (me) to vouch for her initiative and work ethic.”
Certain industries offer the luxury of letting you launch your career starting with individual, at-home projects. For example, workers in industries like graphic design and content writing can use freelance job websites to connect with employers seeking their talents.
Network, network, network.
Owens said the most important strategy that job seekers can take advantage of is networking. Rather than blindly applying to any job that piques your interest, seek out connections that can teach you about a position or company.
“What better way to get your foot in the door with an employer than by networking and reaching out to individuals at that current employer, gaining insight around how they started working at that company and allowing them to share their insights into their own professional background,” said Owens.
Although networking can happen via social media, an in-person event, or an online networking website, networking is an ongoing, long-term process. Don’t be brash and ask for a job recommendation; this will turn most people off. Instead, perform informational interviews to learn about the company, industry, or position you are seeking, and foster continual connections with industry professionals.
It may be challenging to get a job without industry experience in Malaysia. However, with the tips given above and with enough luck and strategy, you can do it yourself too.
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